|Christ Pratt doing prehistorical dentistry in Jurassic World|
A Review of Jurassic World by Nick Olszyk
MPAA Rating, PG-13
USCCB Rating, A-III
Reel Rating, Four Reels
After two somewhat disappointing sequels, Jurassic World finally manages to be just as much fun as the original a whole new host of ethical dilemmas for the 21st century. Only director Colin Trevorrow’s sophomore effort, he has a keen eye for action and ear for witty dialogue that lovingly preserves the golly-whiz atmosphere of an eight year old wowed by dinosaurs while some pretty terrifying stuff goes down, both in teeth and in philosophy. It’s the first great film of the summer that is more family orienteered than one might imagine.
Twenty years after John Hammand’s first attempt at making a dinosaur theme park went sour, “Jurassic World” is now a fully functional world famous attraction, including plenty of merchandise and corporate influence. In the early scenes, two brothers Grey and Zach Mitchell are sent by their parents to visit their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the career driven, cell phone obsessed executive who runs the park and quickly gives them VIP passes so they will stay out of her hair. They visit the various attractions including a Mosasaurus that splashes visitors like Sea World and an off road spherical vehicle that allows up close access to sauropods.
Claire concerned with getting Verizon Wireless to sponsor their newest “asset,” Indominus Rex, a completely new hybrid dinosaur. “We thought genetic modification would up the ‘wow’ factor,” she gleefully announces. Her raptor trainer and former single date boyfriend Owen (the always enjoyable Chris Pratt) is not so impressed. “They’re dinosaurs. Wow enough.” Of course, there are some unforeseen consequences to these combinations of DNA and soon Indominus is wreaking havoc throughout the park. It’s going to take some old school wisdom rather than corporate strategery to fix this problem.
The first Jurassic Park dealt with traditional bioethical dilemma of cloning and “playing God,” very Huxulian and Owellian themes. This goes a step further into the the new age, especially genetically engineering lifeforms to fit specific needs. Indominus is an entirely new creation, not simply the resurrection of an old one. It was made through human pride rather than divine evolution. The problem with artificial life is that sin always gets in the way. Like the golem and Frankenstein’s monster, man’s creation is fallen not just in its nature but in its formation. Here, Indominus is made to be an exciting attraction but also secretly as a weapon of war.
One scientist counters Owen’s skepticism. “We’ve always been doing this,” he insists. It true that technology has existed since the dawn of fire. The difference is that traditionally human ingenuity has cooperated with nature rather than simple changing it to fit human needs. It’s one thing to cross pea pods to get a sweeter and richer food; it’s quite another to inject them with firefly DNA to make them glow at night. It’s not unlike the difference between natural family planning and contraception.
One profound and unexpected aspect of Jurassic World is a strong affirmation of the necessity of familial relationships. The nephews are sent off due to an impending divorce. At the mention of this, Grey begins crying. “It will be fine,” Zach insists. “We’ll get two of everything. Two houses. Two cars. Two sets of presents.” “I don’t want two of everything. I want one,” he affirms. Like Claire, their parents push them aside to focus on their own wants, putting their children in serious danger in the process. Owen, however, understands the importance of relationships. As the raptor trainer, he is the alpha of the pack, even entering the paddock unarmed to save a fellow worker. “How do you control them?” someone asks bewildered. “It’s not about control. It’s a relationship based one respect.” Owen is perfectly content with the simple things: a motorcycle, a trailer, a good beer, and a nice laugh. He even has sympathy for Indominus Rex, noting that the poor creature was raised in isolation without any other animals, leading to bad “social skills.” He loves the dinosaurs but is willing to sacrifice them to save people, risking his life to kill Indominus and save Claire’s family, putting nature in its proper place in respect to the value of humans. He’s a man both St. Francis and St. George would admire.
In a very subtle and gentle way, Jurassic World gives society a little poke in its most sensitive area, reminding it that despite all the current talk surrounding same-sex marriage and transgenderism, nature cannot be changed. God’s way is the best way. Unfortunately, it seems like speculative fiction is the only place this thinking is appropriate. If only it could leap off the screen and into the legal system.
This article first appeared in Catholic World Report on June 17th, 2015.